Reluctant Learners

Yesterday, Angela Jackson and Rachel Stark, both internal medicine doctors, facilitated a workshop on how to engage reluctant learners. Thanks to our new podcasting capabilities, you can listen to a condensed version of their session here.

One of their main points was that reluctance is a modifiable state, not a permanent characteristic. To illustrate that, Angela asked us to remember a dull lecture we had to sit through during our training. We might have been reluctant then, but we continued on to academic careers.

Another helpful distinction was tallying the different kinds of reluctance. There’s the student who texts, rolls her eyes, or doesn’t prepare. At the same time, there are know-it-all students who presume to have complete understanding of the material when they don’t. They described the “minimizer,” who gives just the briefest answer to a question. For each of these cases, the response might be different.

Whatever the approach, the group agreed that some action is required. Too often, difficult students just get ignored and passed on to the next teacher without any remedy. That does a disservice to the student as well as her classmates, who should receive clear signals about acceptable behavior.


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